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Articles > Islam and Muslims > Islam in Russia can serve as an example for the World umma

- Dear Ravil hazrat! Yesterday came to an end the work of the second session of the “ Russia– Islamic World” Strategic Vision Group. The meeting took place in the capital of Tatarstan. What factor was the major one in the work of the Group?

- The Strategic Vision Group is a consultative body aimed at broadening the cooperation between Russia and Islamic states.

Kazan city was chosen not by mere coincidence. Citizens of Tatarstan are represented by various nationalities and religions. Through centuries people of Tatarstan through their way of life, positive and constructive activities strengthened Islamic state and interreligious relations. And this to a great extent is due to the wisdom and insight of multinational people of the Republic of Tatarstan and its government.

The topic of our discussion “ Russia – Islamic world” was rather timely. Truly, life of modern multiethnic and multiconfessional society, including Russian Muslims, is many-sided and diverse; it’s full of uneasiness and hopes, difficulties and contradictions. Let alone alarming events on the world scene, among which are Israel – Lebanon and Palestine – Israel war conflicts that lead to deaths of innocent civil people.

Among the topics discussed on the session were complicated and diverse processes of economic and social reforms that take place in our country, formation of multipolar democratic Russian society, its spiritual and moral revival. All these processes are diversely evaluated both by world society and our compatriots, including Russian Muslims.

The collapse of the “country of developed socialism” lead to development of serious battle on the world arena for the ideas of what the future world should be. Nowadays a lot of words are being said about the confrontation of civilizations, many try to counter Islamic civilization with the Christian one. In fact, there is no religious confrontation between traditional monotheistic religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

This was unanimously and vociferously declared by leaders, heads and representatives of world religions on the Summit of Religious Leaders that passed in Moscow in July 2006. They also affirmed the Appeal to the Heads of the States and the World Society that sounded “to dialogue and cooperation, no to interreligious confrontation!”

Islam is without prejudice to any human rights and freedoms, but discrimination is often assigned to Islam by antislamists. Islam, on the contrary, opposes only moral and spiritual corruption of a person, it cares about natural decrease of population, death from alcoholism and drugs, AIDS and other evil sides of “free” world: immorality and all-permissiveness.

- What was declared on this significant event on the part of Russian Muslims? What did you stress on?

- We, Muslims of Russia are against xenophobia, extremism, terrorism and attempts to justify them religiously, these phenomena are alien to our religion, and we oppose antagonism based on politics, nationality and religion that introduces enmity among confessions and peoples. Islam does not divide nations to better and worse. Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and mercy) proclaimed: “Oh people! Isn’t your Lord single? Don’t you have the only father? Has an Arab advantage over non-Arab? Or has non-Arab advantage over an Arab? Or the black-skinned over white-skinned or vice versa? The advantage is only in fear of God and devotion.”

It is of common knowledge that Islam gave the world the teaching of equality and brotherhood of all people and nations, the teaching of the human right to choose religion freely, teaching of an agreement as the best form of peace coexistence of people and nations of different religions and believes, based on preservation of identity of cultures and traditions of all people on Earth based on he principles of equal rights, mutual respect and cooperation.  For the overwhelming majority of Muslims all around the world the priority way is the way of multipolar world, the way of unity of the world society through mutual enrichment of confessional and national cultures. The Holy Quran cites: “Oh people! We crested you as men and women and made you nations and tribes for you to cognize each other. Truly the most noble of you to Allah is the most pietistic. Allah, truly, is Knowing and Conversant” (49:13).

Great amount of work is being done in Russia muties Council aimed at strengthening of stability in our Russia, building civil society. Was the position of RMC conveyed to the participants of the session of the “ Russia – Islamic World” Strategic vision Group?

Yes, it was. Moreover, it was particularly stressed that as one of the ways of opposing radicalism RMC considers rising the level of religious education and training Muslim clergymen, introducing into Muslim ethnic cultural environment modern bases of religious and moral culture. Spread through educational enterprises, mass media, and message of spiritual leaders religious traditions of historical Islamic theological thought of Russia, the works of great Tatar enlighteners at the turn of the  XIX-XX centuries – Mardjani, Bigiev, Kamaleddin, Gasprinskiy and other ideologists of djadidizm, who appealed for peace and love, tolerance and mutual respect. And it is worthy of note, that the same thesis was stated by professor doctor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu during his latter visit to our country and to Russia muftis Council. “Russian Muslims are not in need of import of other ideologies, Russian Islam develops in conditions of high educational level of the citizens of the country as a whole including Muslims, it has true, moderate character and can to a great extent be a model for the world ummah.”, he said.

- How does Russiamufties Council cooperate with the state authorities in the country’s unanimity affair? In what way does RMC build its international activities?

- Russia muftis Council shares the efforts of our country’s authorities, the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in their striving to a colder integration of Russian Muslims into world Muslim society. Yet we also have to acknowledge that the possibilities and potential of Russian Muslims, their spiritual centers are not sufficiently used in the relations with Muslim countries. Yet, the RMC’s activities within the framework of “national diplomacy”, our summit meetings with state, social and religious leaders of Islamic world, that took part in RMC residence, such as meetings with:

- Palestine leaders of politic movements “Hamas” who visited our country by invitation of President Vladimir Putin;

- Mahmud Abbas, head of Palestine Administration;

- Bulent Arynchem, chairman of Parliament of Turkey;

- Saad Hariri, head of majority fraction of Lebanon Parliament;

- Abdalla ben Khaled Al Khalif, deputy Prime-minister of Bahrain, Islam and wakf Minister;

- Ayatolla Muhammad Ali Tashiri, general secretary of World Organization of convergence of mazhabs;

- Abdullah Gyul, vice- Prime-Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey;

- Abdullah Al’-Maatuk, Islam affairs and wakf Minister of Kuwait;

- prince Salman ben Abdel Aziz Al Saud, head of Council of royal family of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, governor of Riyadh province;

And with many other, all of them speak for themselves and prove the effectiveness of such “people’s diplomacy” in the development of cooperation of Russia and Islamic world.

These meetings, communication and talks gave notable results and contribute to further strengthening of policy and authority of our country’s course aimed at convergence with Islamic world, at good neighborhood, mutually beneficial partnership to the benefit of peace and cooperation.

It’s not a secret that both in Russian Empire and in the Soviet Union the role of the informal organizations and the “people’s diplomacy” in the strengthening the influence of Russia in a particular region was highly esteemed. We are sure that the existing historical experience in Russia should be developed on the basis of modern geopolitical realties with use of social activity and patriotism of Russia Muslims.

- Ravil hazrat, as the head of Russia muftis Council how do you evaluate the results of the second session of the “ Russia– Islamic World” Strategic Vision Group?

- the session was on a high level. RMC looks in future with confidence and optimism, we are inspired by the strategic course of our country, declared by the President: “ Russia as a unique Eurasian state has always played special role in the building of relations between the East and the West. And I’m sure that our interaction within OIC today can well become a most important element of fair and secure peace. It can provide for the ground for non-conflict decision of many international and regional problems”

that “today our country’s cooperation with Muslim states is developing symbolically, embraces economic, humanitarian and cultural spheres. Based on the principles of respect and openness, such partnership works for the benefit pf stability and security in the world, serves as an example for religious dialogue” said the president of the Russian Federation in his opening speech of during the opening ceremony of our session.

During the centuries Russia, populated by millions of people “relating themselves to traditions adherers, is closely connected to Islamic world by numerous ties” reminded the head of the state.

”The session will open new possibilities for establishing fruitful contacts of social, business and religious associations and, of course, will contribute to strengthening of our common position of rejection of extremism and interethnic and international discord”, - noted the president.

And nowadays all we, state and public figures, religious leaders and all common citizens of our country bear great responsibility for the strengthening of unity and solidarity of peoples of our country independently of national and religious identity, in the name of Peace and Justice as it is said in the Holy Quran: “And this is my straight way; so follow it and don’t follow other ways for them not to set you apart from His way. This has he devised to you – may be you will be god-fearing! ” (6:154,153).

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